Kenyans love their public holidays, and Moi Day is one of them. This holiday is dedicated to celebrating Daniel arap Moi, the longest ruling President Kenya ever had. He assumed power in 1978 and stepped down in 2002 when he was constitutionally barred from running in the presidential elections.
Moi Day was first celebrated in 1998 to mark Moi’s 10 years in office since becoming Head of State and it became an official National holiday. Moi was very popular among the people of Kenya because of his leadership policies which were rooted in the Swahili word “nyayo”, meaning footsteps. It emphasised peace, unity, and a willingness to follow the legacies of beloved Kenyatta, the country’s first president. At the beginning of his tenure, Moi adopted a populist approach driven by travelling across the country, communicating and sharing ideas with the citizens, and releasing political prisoners.
At the outset of the 1980s, Moi’s leadership became increasingly dictatorial in nature, which led to stunted economic growth, terrible droughts, staggering debt, and a significant rise in unemployment. In 1982, the constitution was changed to make Kenya a one-party state to stifle opposition. Towards the end of his rule, Moi’s presidency was marked by recurring economic difficulties, calls for reform, and demonstrations against his government. Despite his failings, Moi still retained a lot of goodwill among the people of Kenya.
Moi Day continued to be celebrated as a public holiday every 10th October until the Parliament scrapped it in 2010. The country stopped celebrating the cancelled holiday; however, in 2017, an aggrieved citizen took the matter to court, arguing that the decision to scrap Moi Day was an illegality that in turn deprived workers of their right to have the day off and allowances as prescribed by the constitution. The court ruled in his favour.
It was decided that Moi Day was mandatory, and the celebration of it as a public holiday does not contravene written laws unless it could be shown that it’s celebration ran contrary to the provisions of the constitution, so Moi Day was revived. After a seven-year hiatus, Kenya can resume celebrating Moi Day on 10th October as a public holiday, where the people can stay home, relax, reminisce and do whatever pleases them.